- Choosing The Perfect Wheelbarrow
- Types of Wheelbarrows
- Wheelbarrow Features to Know
- Best Wheelbarrows For The Money
When I first started gardening, I did everything by hand.
It got tiresome after just a few months, so I decided to invest in some garden tools for heavy loads. The first thing I bought myself was a high-quality wheelbarrow. If you haven’t yet invested in a wheelbarrow, it’s the most efficient way to transport your soil, mulch, weeds, or pretty much anything else you can dream up.
In this article, we’ll dive into what matters when buying a wheelbarrow. In the past, there weren’t too many different types of wheelbarrows on the market, but that’s changed. Now, there are dozens of different types, all with their own features.
It’s a little overwhelming, so we’re going to demystify it a bit for you. You’ll learn:
- The 3 different kinds of wheelbarrows
- The materials the top wheelbarrows use
- Everything to know about wheelbarrow tires
And a lot more! We’ll also recommend some of the top wheelbarrows for your money.
Other good options that aren’t traditional wheelbarrows include:
The WORX Aerocart 2-Wheeled Yard Cart
The Marathon 2-Wheeled Yard Rover. 300lb load capacity and a classic design. Great for small jobs around the house.
The Mac Sports Collapsible Utility Wagon
Choosing The Perfect Wheelbarrow
Let’s get this out of the way first: the perfect wheelbarrow for you will be different from the perfect wheelbarrow for me.
Everyone has a different garden and gardening needs. To make a good buying decision, we need to look at what makes wheelbarrows good in general.
The most important thing to consider is what you’re going to use your wheelbarrow for. Answering this question will help narrow down the size, shape, and price range you should consider.
Types of Wheelbarrows
There are three kinds of wheelbarrows available to you. Which you choose depends on both the conditions of your garden and your own personal preferences.
Hybrid wheelbarrows are a mix of classic wheelbarrow design that has been updated for modern times. In the past, wheelbarrows had a single wheel and a load tub that was so shallow it wouldn’t much of anything.
Now, wheelbarrows come with 1, 2, or even 4 wheels and a variety of tub sizes, depending on the type of load you need to haul.
If you live in a hilly area, get a heavy-duty wheelbarrow that’s easier to use!
Most traditional wheelbarrows are suited for hills, but you want to choose a lightweight plastic wheelbarrow or poly wheelbarrow that’s easy to maneuver with heavy loads in it.
The ball bearings in the wheels should be well-lubricated and the hardwood handles should have grips to help pull it up a hill. Avoid a steel frame for this as it adds to weight and makes a heavy load even heavier.
Also consider getting a wheelbarrow with two wheels so you have extra stability when going up or down steep inclines or navigating rough terrain.
The most high-tech option for you to consider is the electric wheelbarrow. As you might imagine, these are more expensive than the traditional or hybrid models. Even after you purchase one, there are additional maintenance costs to consider.
While there are some of these on the market, they’re not too popular and they’re not one of my recommendations in this guide, simply because most people do not need them.
Wheelbarrow Features to Know
Just like other garden tools, there are a ton of different options and customizations that wheelbarrow manufacturers add to their products.
I’ve broken all of the most common wheelbarrow features down so you can understand exactly what to look for when making your purchase.
Load Tub Material
The load tray of your wheelbarrow can be made from:
- Plastic (Polyethlene)
- Fabric (Typically a folding wheelbarrow)
- Metal (Stainless Steel)
As a general rule, the heavier and more sturdy the load tub material, the heavier loads and higher load capacity the wheelbarrow can carry. At the same time, this means that the wheelbarrow itself is heavier, which makes it harder to operate.
Choose a load tub material that can support everything you want to haul in your wheelbarrow while still remaining light enough for you to operate it easily. For most people, this means a lightweight metal or a polyethylene plastic is the best choice.
Every single wheelbarrow manufacturer lists the weight limit that their wheelbarrows can hold. The weight is depending on a wheelbarrow’s construction, with heavier and more sturdily built wheelbarrows able to carry more.
However, the introduction of polyethylene load beds has made some wheelbarrows extremely lightweight, but still have a high load capacity.
Cargo volume refers to how space you can fill in your wheelbarrow. Most wheelbarrows average around 10 cubic feet of material.
Volume is an important factor to consider. Most people only look at the weight a wheelbarrow can carry, but it doesn’t matter that your wheelbarrow can carry 1,200 pounds if you can’t fit 1,200 pounds worth of material on it! Do some thinking and plan out what you’ll be putting in your wheelbarrow on a regular basis. This will affect the size that you need to buy.
Wheelbarrows come with either one, two, or four tires. The classic wheelbarrow is the single tire wheelbarrow, which can be hard to maneuver, especially if you are going up hills or have an heavy load. However, it’s also easier to turn around corners and move up narrow pathways.
Most people opt for a two-wheel wheelbarrow for stability’s sake. Some go for a four-wheel hybrid because they want to drag it behind them with ease. These are more like a garden cart, which I have reviewed in detail here.
A pneumatic tire makes for an easy to maneuver wheelbarrow, but also runs the risk of popping, forcing you to buy replacement pneumatic tires.
Most high-quality wheelbarrows will have pneumatic tires, which are filled with air and are similar to car tires. These are the best tires you can buy, because they roll smoothly over almost any type of terrain.
Some less expensive models will skimp on the tires, making them out of plastic or without any tread. Try to avoid these as they will break down much quicker, potentially causing a huge spill in the garden!
The final factor that will affect your tires is the ball bearing that is within the tire. The quality of this ball bearing will affect both how much weight your wheelbarrow can carry as well as how fast and smooth the tire rolls along the ground.
Choose a wheelbarrow that has a high-quality, industrial-grade bearing if possible. It will last much longer and won’t break down.
The handles of your wheelbarrow will affect both how easy it is to turn and how easy it is to dump the load. Most wheelbarrows will have long wood handles that attach to the front of the wheelbarrow for easy leverage when dumping.
Some other types will have a single handle that can be either pulled or attached to a tractor or an ATV. These will have a dumping feature on the load bed so you do not have to awkwardly empty your wheelbarrow.
The best handles come with a rubberized or plasticized grip of some kind to help maneuver the wheelbarrow easier. When hauling a heavy load, it’s helpful to have a nice grippy surface to hold onto instead of holding on to bare wood.
When you set your wheelbarrow down after moving it, you’re setting it down on rests. Unless your wheelbarrow has four wheels, it will have some kind of structure to rest on when not in use.
The best ones are made out of stainless steel and will not warp even under the heaviest loads.
This is a rare feature, but some wheelbarrows have additional storage racks running in between the handles or on the sides of the tub. They allow you to load up oddly-shaped items, garden tools, or mulch bags.
Unless you’re using your wheelbarrow inside (not likely!), you’ll want one that is resistant to the elements. If you get one with a load tub made of plastic, you only have to worry about sun damage. If you get one made out of metal, you have to worry about rust, so try to get a stainless steel one if possible.
Whenever you invest in a piece of gardening equipment, especially one that’s a bit more expensive, it’s always good to check the warranty. Some Brands offer better warranties than others, so make sure to check exactly what’s covered and what isn’t before you make a purchase.
The better the warranty, the more you can trust that the company stands behind their product. Think about it: why would a company offer a good warranty if they knew they made low-quality wheelbarrows? It just doesn’t make sense.
Best Wheelbarrows For The Money
For most people, the best overall wheelbarrow for the money is going to be the 600lb capacity Gorilla Cart. The 36 x 20″ tub is made of polyethlene plastic, making it durable but lightweight. It comes with four pneumatic tires for smooth rolling over any terrain.
The most impressive feature is the fully-vertical dumping ability of the tub, so you don’t have to awkwardly maneuver the tub to get everything out.
The handle is a pull-handle only, meaning you can’t attach it to a tractor or ATV. But you shouldn’t need to at this size. On top of that, it comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
Heavy Duty Pick
Unsurprisingly, my pick for the best heavy duty wheelbarrow for the money is also from Gorilla Cart. The 1,200lb model comes with a few features that the 600lb one lacks, all for not much more money.
The first and most obvious is the larger load tub at 40 x 25″. It holds 10 cubic feet of material and up to 1,200lb. That is a HUGE amount of space!
The second major improvement is the two in one handle. It can either be a pull handle or attach to an ATV or tractor for serious hauling power.
Small Wheelbarrow Pick
If you just need a wheelbarrow for smaller jobs around the house, the Marathon Yard Rover is the best one for you.
It has two pneumatic wheels and will carry 300lb and 5 cubic feet of material. That’s not a lot, but it’s more than enough for many home gardeners.
It’s also extremely lightweight, coming in at just under 30lb.
Two Wheeled Option
This unique design from WORX is my pick for the best two wheeled wheelbarrow for the money. It can be turned into a wheelbarrow, yard cart, dolly, or trailer tote at a moment’s notice, making it super versatile.
It’s made of solid steel but is still easy to manage and even features a fold-out extension arm to load up extra cuttings, tools, or other gear.
It’s on the more expensive side, but for the versatility it offers it’s hard to beat.
If you care about portability more than load capacity, choose this wheelbarrow. Again, it’s more of a utility cart than a wheelbarrow but it’s still a good option if you just need a bit of extra help pulling around some gear.
It’s 35.5″ x 20″ x 22.5″ when unfolded and only 8″ thick when collapsed, making it easy to store.
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